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Intermec Unveils Tag Reader-Writer; Celerant RFID-enables Its Retailer Software

At the National Retail Federation's annual trade show, Intermec debuts a new EPC Gen 2 tag interrogator, while Celerant Technology adds RFID to its retail management system.
By Claire Swedberg
In addition, retail management system provider Celerant Technology has announced an RFID addition to its Celerant Command Retails system that would allow retailers to utilize RFID tags at the item level for faster point-of-sale (POS) transactions and transfers between stores. Thus far, 215 retailers are using Celerant Command Retail, a management system for retailers that enables point-of-sale, inventory, warehouse-management and data-mining applications written in Java. Those retailers include apparel, convenience and specialty stores.

"RFID technology is our latest offering," says Celerant's marketing and communications manager, Michele Majka. Radio frequency identification, she says, will provide increased speed at checkout and greater security by ensuring that items do not pass through the POS area without being accounted for. The technology also eliminates the slower process of scanning individual bar codes. RFID interrogators, she adds, can be used for transferring goods from one store to another—for example, a box of tagged items could be placed on a counter with an RFID interrogator, and all items could be immediately checked into the store's inventory database.

At the point of sale, stores would install an Alien Technology RFID interrogator under a counter top. The reader would connect to up to four antennas that would capture unique RFID numbers on EPC Gen 2 Alien tags attached to goods placed at the terminal, and transmit the tags' ID numbers to the interrogator, which would then transfer that data to a server using Command Retail software to connect to the retailer's POS system. The system also includes Zebra Technologies' RFID label printer-encoders to encode and print RFID tags that a store can attach to its products.

The system is available now, Majka says, though pricing has not yet been determined. "It will certainly be an investment," she states, "but the return will outweigh that investment."

Also at the NRF trade show, Microsoft and StoreXperience are jointly introducing an information-delivery application new to the United States. StoreXperience's applications enable consumers to use auto-ID technologies such as RFID and bar coding to identify products and access related information. In the application being unveiled by the two companies, consumers can utilize their cell phones' camera to read 2-D bar codes printed on tags attached to products being sold in stores. Doing so would allow consumers to access reviews and ratings, operation manuals, instructional videos, tutorials and other product information.

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